Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Legalizing tyranny in the United States"

When I began Chemical Billy, less than two years ago, I had an idea of being a political blogger. I soon realized, however, that I had neither the time, the contacts, nor the expertise to add anything new to the discussion. I decided instead to stay with the type of writing I know best, my own twisted view of my corner of the world. But this is a time when, as a citizen of this country, I feel it is necessary to climb onto my tiny soapbox and add my little voice to the chorus.

I've just returned from a road trip across the desert to the town where I grew up. Any trip to the desert is emotional for me. John Updike described the experience well, in reference to his own hometown: "I loved one loves one's own body and consciousness, because they are synonymous with being." I love the sun-blasted emptiness of the desert deeply; when I lived abroad, curled up with homesickness, it was the savage desert that I pined for, that for me represented America and all I love about it.

While I was gone, I didn't read the news. No internet connection, no newspaper, no television. So when I returned, full of love for this wide and ragged country - for slot machine jockeys and maternal waitresses, for transplanted Basques and long-lost relatives and old friends - I was shocked to see how completely we have betrayed ourselves, and so quietly, with barely a whimper in protest.

I can see I've buried the lede, but it's hard to know how to approach such a brazen abandonment of the ideals that make us Americans, of the very foundations of our democracy. I'm talking about the detainee bill that is virtually guaranteed to pass the senate today. I'll let Glenn Greenwald explain what is contained in this bill, with far more clarity than I can:

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The legalization of torture and permanent detention

And the Rude Pundit brings it down to essentials (the Rude Pundit is known for being, well, rude, but the only obscene word in this post is "evil"):

Regarding Evil and American Identity

Any parent of a wayward kid will tell you that it hurts most to see one you love doing wrong. It hurts me, right to my core, to see fear eating away our national morality. I love this country, all of it, and more than anything, I want it to do right. No idea of "safety" is worth trading our souls for.

And just how "safe" does this bill make us? It makes it legal for the president to decide that anyone, citizen or not, is an "enemy combatant," and can be held, without charge, forever. It will now be legal for the president to decide, say, that because of this post, I am a threat to the safety of Americans. He could then throw me in prison in Syria, and have me tortured, for the rest of my life. I would never get a trial. Sound extreme? Maybe it would never happen - I sure hope it doesn't. But there is nothing to keep such extreme things from happening now, except the good will and conscience of the president. It's all up to him, now.

I hope with all my heart that we can turn this around. I hope that we can vote in some people who will stand up for the America I love. I will not believe that it's too late for us, not yet.

I could go on and on, but it's all been said, and much better, by many others (though clearly, not enough). Back to my regularly scheduled programming, and pictures from the desert, soon.


el Geoffo said...

Yikers, Billy.

Keep fighting. I thought it was scary being there (as an ex-pat) during the first Iraq War. I can't imagine what it 's like now.

Rather than clutter up your comment thingy, I wrote you a reply on my page.


Chemical Billy said...

Thanks, Geoff. Let me know if you hear of any jobs for terrified Americans opening up over on your side of the border...